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Cat Pain Management - Understanding Pain Management In Your Cat

How will I know if my cat is in pain?

Cats are masters at hiding their pain. Changes in behavior, increased or decreased vocalization, change in their meow, hiding, sleeping more, or not eating are some of the signs your cat might be in pain. You might also notice that they are dropping food out of their mouth, showing aggression, or acting in unusual ways with other housemates. If something's hurting and you pick them up, they may lash out at you. They may hiss or swan at you. If they usually play with a housemate, and then all of a sudden you're noticing that they're attacking their housemate or if their housemate's trying to play with them and they're acting in unusual ways, those can be signs that a cat is in pain. It may be a multitude of subtle things. If you notice any change from their normal behavior, it's a sign that something's not right.

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing pain in my cat?

Self-diagnosing can lead to misunderstanding the source of your cat's pain. For instance, my older kitty cat was sleeping more than normal and stopped sleeping with me at night. I noticed that instead of jumping, he was stepping, and he hesitates before jumping up or down. This was a sign that he was hurting. The biggest risk is if you misunderstand the symptoms and it leads to a condition worsening, potentially to a point where we can't treat it. If you notice any changes in your cat's behavior, you should make an appointment and get them seen by a veterinarian.

What are some conditions that can cause cat pain, and what are the treatments?

Numerous conditions can cause cat pain, such as ear infection, dental disease, tumors, stomach upset, kidney disease, urinary tract infection, fractures, and sprains. Cats can have pain anywhere and be caused by anything, just like humans. Cats are better at hiding their pain due to their predator nature and instinct to hide illnesses because in the wild, you can't show weaknesses because then you're going to get picked off from another predator or you're going to lose your prey. That's why they're so good at hiding their diseases. It's ingrained in them. Subtle changes such as hiding, changing eating and drinking habits, or going to the litter box frequently can be signs of pain. Male cats in particular can actually get enough obstruction and/or a blockage in their urethra or in their penises, and they can't urinate, and that's a medical emergency. The symptoms are subtle, so you want to make sure that you're paying attention to this because when they do get a urinary obstruction, you have limited time to get them to a veterinarian to get the blockage unblocked.

What types of pain medications might a veterinarian prescribe for my cat?

The type of pain will determine the medication. For example, we would not use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for stomach pain. We could use injectable pain medications like buprenorphine or a liquid pain medication called gabapentin for acute pain or post-surgical pain.

What is the most important consideration when it comes to cat pain management?

The most important thing is to look for improvements in behavior. I had a patient not too long ago that when the owners were petting their hind area, the cat was getting upset, hissing, squatting, and running away because it hurt. When I sent home a medication called gabapentin, dosed correctly for a cat because they're dosed completely differently than humans, I'm looking for an improvement in that behavior. Sure enough, after a little bit of time on that medication, the cat's now back to enjoying its scratches. So we're looking to see if things are improving. If they are dropping food and we think they have dental pain, we do a dental procedure and we find all these infected teeth and remove them. Once everything's healed up, I want to see that their eating habits are back to normal and that they're moving around normally.

If we diagnose osteoarthritis in cats, we might use an injection called Solensia that blocks osteoarthritis pain. I'm using this on my older cat, and he's back to sleeping with me, jumping on and off things, and playing with his brother. So, we know the pain therapy is working because his mobility and behavior are improving. We want to ensure that what we're doing is effective and that the behaviors our cat used to love are coming back.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Cat Pain Management - FAQs

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

How do I know what medication is safe to give my cat?

You can always give us a call. Call your veterinarian or Four Paws at Fulshear Veterinary Clinic and we will guide you. We will need to know if you have leftover medication from a different patient or another pet. Is it safe to give or not? For us to fully answer that question, a doctor-patient relationship is necessary. Therefore, you'd need to be a current client. Always call your veterinarian because there are some drugs that are safe for cats and then some drugs that are not. Cats are not small dogs. Their bodies process drugs completely differently. There are some medications that do cross species that you can use, but there's also a lot that don't.

What is the best way to give my cat pain medication?

This is a really great question. If you have a cat and you've had to medicate your cat, you're going to know there's no straightforward way. But there are some tips and tricks that I can give you to make it a little bit easier. Cat pain medication comes in a variety of forms and each has its own method of administration.

Some medications are flavored tablets. We have a flavored anti-inflammatory tablet called Onsior that is highly palatable. Most cats will take it like it's a treat, so that makes it easy. You can just squirt liquid into their mouth. Just keep in mind that when cats don't like the taste of something, they will drool or foam. This is legitimately them just being very dramatic. They're not rabid. They're not having an allergic reaction. They're just really wanting you to know that this is terrible, and you can always rinse their mouth out with some water.

There are some transdermal medications that we can use. Whenever we're getting these medications compounded, we just have to be aware that they may not absorb as well as they might orally because absorbing through the gastrointestinal tract or the stomach and the intestines is going to be one of the fastest ways to get in the bloodstream. I don't think I've ever sent home injections for cats, but there are certain injectables that we can teach owners to give. There are certain injectable medications that can absorb through the gums, where you don't have to use a needle, like buprenorphine. If you do have that medication at home and you're having to administer that, then put it onto the gums, unless told to do otherwise, because sometimes it can become pounded into a liquid to be given orally. I like to do it on the gums because it's just a lot easier to squirt something on the gums than to shove it down her throat. When it comes to pilling a cat with capsules, tablets, or pills, I pop it down the back of their throat followed by a little squish of water with a little syringe is another way to give medication. Ultimately, we just have to find out what works best for your cat. If you are struggling, please feel free to give the clinic a call. My entire staff is very well versed and trained in the tips and tricks of how to get our feline patients to take their meds.

Can I give my cat human pain medications?

No. Unless you are directly authorized by your veterinarian, most of the human pain medications like Tylenol, Advil, and Ibuprofen are extremely toxic to cats. Do not give your cat these medications unless you want your cat to go into kidney failure. It is crucial to consult with a veterinarian before administering any human medicine to a cat. There are certain doses of gabapentin that you can give, but it's very easy to overdose your cat because, in humans, I believe gabapentin only comes in a hundred milligram and three hundred milligram capsules. Occasionally, it'll come in liquid, but you do need to have the under supervision and instruction of a veterinarian before you do this.

Can I give my cat NSAIDs?

If they're prescribed for your cat, yes. When we talk about NSAIDs, we are referring to a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory category which includes Tylenol, Advil, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. These are NSAIDs, and unless prescribed by a vet, they should not be given to cats. It is toxic to them, it will poison them, and some cats do not recover. If you have Onsior, which is an anti-inflammatory approved for cats, it is safe to give at home as long as you're under the direct instruction of a veterinarian.

Are there all natural painkillers for cats?

That's a great question. In today's day and age, everyone is looking for more holistic methods. What I have learned is that I like to blend the two: eastern and western medicine. I would say that there are some studies I believe where catnip can help. However, it's not long lasting. It can overstimulate the cat and have unwanted effects, so you just have to be cautious. CBDis up and coming. I would say that the studies are kind of inconclusive as to whether or not this helps. You do need to be doing it using a veterinary brand. Please don't go to Joe Schmoe's CBD shop on the corner. A good website is They actually have veterinarians on staff and they have done the testing. Their products are tested and safe and have appropriate dosing because I know at every farmer's market that I go to, there's someone touting CBD for pets, and my question is, has it been tested? Just know that the studies are still ongoing. I'm sure that you can try it just if it's a veterinary branded product. If you have questions, please give the clinic a call about this and we can chat about it.

As for other natural remedies, acupuncture can do wonders, so if you can find a veterinarian certified in acupuncture, that can help with pain relief. Cold laser is another holistic approach that is natural and doesn't involve medication. It uses laser technology to penetrate into the deeper layers of the tissue relieving pain and inflammation, and increasing blood flow. There's not a ton of options outside of that that I would recommend unless you were under the supervision of a veterinarian who has a veterinarian's degree in holistic treatments. There are some things that you can deal with there, but you need to be under the supervision of a veterinarian.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

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